By Cacinda Maloney
She steadied as I tried to balance myself on her back. She took one step and I shifted, then she took another and I shifted again. Riding her was like magic. Out in the Sonoran Desert, so peaceful and still, this city gal was riding horses in the quiet calm of the Bradshaw Mountains with views of the hundreds of cacti surrounding the 400,000 rugged acres Canyon Creek Ranch has access to in the Agua Fria National Monument.
I was holding on to the reins and trying to take photographs with my DSLR all at the same time. It was a balancing act, but we managed to work together and she became my compadre. Riding the trails with this group of city slickers was soul-satisfying and a way to experience nature unlike anything I had ever experienced in Arizona before.
Seeing the old western town of Coldwater was refreshing and thinking of life on a ranch suddenly felt like it wouldn’t be half bad since I spend a majority of my time in the concrete world. Once we arrived, there was plenty to do. They encouraged us to sit back, relax and engage in social behavior that has long since been forgotten in this busy world. We were served drinks and showed the facilities in order to get everyone to relax from the city stress.
Then, before you know it, we were off on an adventure riding in the Pink Jeep over to the skeet shooting range.
Being from Texas, you would think I would know what to do, but I have never even shot a gun before in my life. At my first go, I forgot to tell the guy to release the “bird” so I shot into the air and the next round wasn’t much better, but it gave me a sense of the gun and the power it holds.
Riding back to the town through the riverbed, I could see the others were mounting their horses and tossing tomahawks high over their heads. I joined in and then went from storefront to storefront to see what all there was to do in this cowtown.
There was a pearl white stucco mission, a saloon with swinging doors, a large picnic area for our steak barbecue, another shooting range, and horse stables.
This Western Destination is an authentic, working ranch for us weary city folk. But even more than that, I loved the ranch handlers. Never have I seen such a genuine group of men, young and old, with amazing camaraderie, so much so that one can tell they have been working together for a long time by the way they communicate and jab at each other in a friendly sort of way. One of the ranch hands was working there his last night before being sent off to another country by the USA military. They all wished him the best of luck and were concerned about him and his family and you could tell it was heartfelt among them.
Also, the owner of the ranch was there, who was a cowboy boot-wearin’, Stetson hat-wearin’, Levi jeans kind-of-guy with a few dogs following him around and a big ole’ smile on his face. This could have been a movie set it was so perfect, but these characters were the real McCoy!
Ending up the night, they played country western music and we ate our perfectly grilled filet mignons and foil wrapped baked potatoes until the sun went down. I would say it could be one of the most perfect days I have spent in Arizona in a really long time, you should try it!